“Average to poor quality hay will not allow a horse to maintain their body condition, and it certainly won’t put weight on them.”
Pete Gibbs is a horse specialist with Texas Cooperative Extension.
“Horses have a one way digestive tract and that alone tells us that they have to have a little bit higher quality ruffage, then maybe what ruminants might have to have”
Gibbs says there are four criteria when choosing hay.
“Pick the hay up and be sure that it’d soft and pliable. If it’s soft and pliable, it’ll have a lot of leaf. It’ll have less stem. The next thing is then is that the hay is very clean. It doesn’t have a lot of foreign objects in it. It doesn’t have trash in it. That sort of thing. We’ve run into that in the last year with a lot of prairie hay that was hauled into Texas. It was actually baled in the center median between Topeka, Kansas and Denver, Colorado.”
Next is the hay’s aroma.
“The smell of the hay. With Coastal Bermuda grass type hay smell is the tell tale sign of whether it’s good quality hay or not in terms of mold. Mold or must.”
Gibbs says the last selection criteria is one that many people mistakenly use as the first.
“We tend to buy hay based on a bright green color and you can get hay that’s very green and it may be low quality hay.”
And if you can’t feed top quality forage it’s important to feed a high quality supplement.
“If you’re forced to feed really overly mature steamy type of hay, it should no be more than about half of a horse’s daily ruffage amount. We’d like to find something really high quality and last year I diverted a lot of people toward processed ruffage products, for instance alfalfa cubes.”
Horses, big beautiful animals, with sometimes fragile digestive systems. I’m Joe Brown, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, From the Ground Up.